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U.S. Threatened by Nationwide Clown Shortage


When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? If it was a clown, the World Clown Association would like you to know that it’s not too late. The organization’s membership numbers have dwindled from 3,500 in 2004 to 2,500, ten years later.


(Photo Credit: The Wolf/Flickr)

“The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,” World Clown Association President Deanna Hartmier, tells The New York Daily News.

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Hartmier says that although circuses are fading, clowns can make up to $300 a pop for appearing at private parties. Very few go on to prestigious gigs like Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In fact, Ringling’s clown college only accepted 14 out of its 531 applicants in 2013.

But job security will always be less important to some artists than expressing their art. People still become musicians, for instance, even though the low end of the pay scale is just $17,175 in a country where people still must pay for their health insurance out of pocket, if they don’t have an employer to foot the bill. So why are clowns on the decline?

Two reasons: attrition, and trends.

Hartmier tells The Daily News that most of the World Clown Association’s members are over 40, and Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger says that kids who are initially interested in clowning in childhood gradually lose interest over time.

“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” he says. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”

So who knows? Maybe in another 10 or 20 years, we’ll see a surge of Millennials donning greasepaint and rubber noses.

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What did you want to be, when you grew up? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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